Inside Riley Keough's Tragic First Year After Lisa Marie Presley's Untimely Death

Riley Keough's young life had already taken so many tragic turns when her mother, Lisa Marie Presley, died on January 12, 2023. There was the 2020 death of her brother, Benjamin Keough, at age 27 and the toll that the chronic illness Lyme Disease was taking on her health. Riley told The Wrap that she suffered a particularly bad flare-up after Benjamin died. Unfortunately, soon after she began the painful process of grieving the loss of another family member, it seemed as though the weight of the world was placed on her shoulders. For poor Riley, the first year after her mother's death was spent dealing with legal issues and family drama.

The "Mad Max: Fury Road" star told Vanity Fair that she spent her final moments with her mom at a fête for the 2022 biopic based on the life of Lisa Marie's father, Elvis Presley. "I remember thinking about how beautiful she looked, and that was my strongest memory of the dinner," she said. Because she was so distraught after her mother died, Riley couldn't deliver the eulogy she wrote honoring Lisa Marie's memory. Instead, Riley's husband, Ben Smith-Peterson, recited it at the memorial service, which was held at Graceland. "I'm a product of your heart," it read in part.

What Riley didn't know at the time was that the actions of another family member would soon make mourning her mother even more heartbreaking.

Riley Keough's legal battle with her grandmother Priscilla Presley

In her will, Lisa Marie Presley named Riley Keough and Benjamin Keough as co-trustees of her estate, which included Graceland. Benjamin's death left Riley as the sole trustee. But according to People, Riley was blindsided when her grandmother, Priscilla Presley, decided to contest Lisa Marie's will days after her death. Priscilla had originally been named one of the co-trustees, and she alleged that the amendment removing her and adding Riley was not valid. One of her claims was that she had not been notified of the alteration to Lisa Marie's trust. "It's a very sad situation. Riley is shocked Priscilla is contesting the amendment," a source said.

Riley's relationship with her grandmother reportedly deteriorated to the point that they almost completely ceased communicating with one another. One insider told ET this was not what a distraught Riley wanted at all. "Riley wants to keep the family together and keep Lisa Marie's legacy in a positive light, but she feels that her grandmother's actions are pushing the family apart even more," the source said. Riley also reportedly felt that her mother would have been unhappy about Priscilla's actions.

On top of all of this, there was an attack on Riley's character when Radar reported that she was not allowing her grandmother to step foot inside Graceland. A source told the webloid that this had enraged Priscilla. However, Yahoo! Entertainment heard from a spokesperson for an unidentified party who denied Radar's reporting.

Riley Keough commented on her family dispute after the dust settled

Riley Keough and Priscilla Presley's battle over Lisa Marie Presley's estate ended in May 2023 when both parties agreed that Riley would be the only trustee of her mother's estate. However, Priscilla was given an advisory role. She was also promised $1 million and 10 years of annual $100,000 payments, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Keough opened up about her familial legal battle in her August 2023 Vanity Fair interview. "There was a bit of upheaval, but now everything's going to be how it was," she said. The "Daisy Jones & the Six" star insisted that there was never any big rift caused by Priscilla's legal move, and she called the media out for the way it had portrayed her grandmother. "All she wants is to love and protect Graceland," she said. As for Priscilla, she told The Hollywood Reporter, "Riley and I are on good terms. We were never not on good terms."

A judge made the settlement official by signing off on it in October 2023, but Riley's financial woes were far from over. The following month, The Blast reported that the California Franchise Tax Board had issued a lien against Keough for unpaid taxes totaling $68,116.50. Riley also had her job cut out for her clearing her late mother's debts. Per Radar, she reached an undisclosed settlement with Barclays Bank in February 2024 over an outstanding loan balance of $1.6 million.

Riley Keough stepped up for her younger sisters

When Lisa Marie Presley died, she didn't just leave Riley Keough behind; she also shared two underage twins, Harper and Finley Lockwood, with her ex Michael Lockwood. Based on some reports, Keough felt a deeper sense of responsibility for her sisters' well-being after their mother died. "Riley has been through it too so she's helping [Harper and Finley]. She recently got them tickets to Taylor Swift and has taken them shopping," a source told Us Weekly in September 2023. The insider added that all three siblings had been undergoing therapy.

Keough was possibly relieved to be spending so much time with her sisters, as a previous report made it sound like she was worried she wouldn't see as much of them after Lisa Marie's death. "She hopes to still be a huge part of Harper and Finley's lives," an insider told ET in 2023. Another source told People that Keough didn't have the warmest relationship with the twins' father and described her as being a "very protective" big sister.

Keough had previously spoken to Wonderwall about the special bond she shares with the twins, explaining how it differed from the more traditional sibling relationship she had with her late brother. "I'm more maternal to them ... It's more of, like, a caretaker relationship," she said in 2018. And at the same time she was feeling the need to mother them even more, she had her own baby to take care of.

Riley Keough sought treatment for her Lyme disease

Riley Keough told Vanity Fair that she and her husband decided to use a surrogate when they became first-time parents in 2022 because of her Lyme disease. They named their daughter Tupelo after the town where Elvis Presley was born.

At the time Keough's interview was conducted in 2023, she was seeking relief from her Lyme disease symptoms at a special facility in Switzerland. "It's a holistic treatment center and offers all kinds of things that you can't really do in America yet, like cleaning your blood," she said. She wasn't comfortable talking about her symptoms, apparently because she feared that people would roll their eyes at her complaints and dismiss her as a whiny nepo baby. However, she had previously told The Wrap, "[The disease] makes basic things like getting out of bed and going on a walk challenging." Potential long-term symptoms of Lyme disease are myriad, including headaches, painful arthritis of the joints, cardiovascular problems, breathing issues, and neurologic complications, per the CDC.

Keough doesn't let her illness slow her down. Of her stay at the treatment center, she told Vanity Fair, "This is my first break in a lot of years. I'm a workaholic." However, she's also insisted that she has her priorities straight. I've actually become really good at taking care of my own mental health. ... I have had to do that because I've had a very difficult life in many ways," she told Who What Wear.

She was faced with the prospect of losing Graceland

When Riley Keough inherited Graceland, she started doing her part to keep her grandfather's legacy alive; in 2023, she hosted a televised holiday special at Elvis Presley's iconic home titled "Christmas at Graceland." On SiriusXM's "Inside Graceland," she said that she enjoyed working on the project, but it sounds like it's difficult for her to spend a lot of time at the popular tourist destination. "Now, a lot of my family's buried there, so it's a place of great sadness at this point in my life," she told Vanity Fair. However, she has proven that she's willing to fight tooth and nail to keep the estate in her family.

Graceland faced being sold in foreclosure in 2024 when Naussany Investments & Private Lending LLC claimed that Lisa Marie Presley had used it as collateral for a $3.8 million loan. In response to the scheduling of the property's foreclosure sale, Keough filed a complaint accusing Naussany Investments of forging documents and being "a false entity," per People. After a judge paused the sale, TMZ reported that Naussany Investments was possibly facing an FBI investigation.

According to a New York Post source, Keough was "traumatized" by the foreclosure attempt. However, Kelly Clarkson's hit "Stronger" seems to be her theme song. She told Vanity Fair, "Parts of me have died and I've felt like my heart has exploded, but I also feel. ... I have strengthened the qualities that have come about through adversity.